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Prob It Analysis

Prob It Analysis

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Probit Analysis
By: Kim Vincent
Quick Overview
 
Probit analysis is a type of regression used to analyze binomial response variables.
 
It transforms the sigmoid dose-response curve to a straight line that can then be analyzed by regression either through least squares or maximum likelihood.
 
Probit analysis can be conducted by one of three techniques:
o
 
Using tables to estimate the probits and fitting the relationship by eye,
o
 
Hand calculating the probits, regression coefficient, and confidence intervals, or 
o
 
Having a stastitical package such as SPSS do it all for you.
Background
The idea of probit analysis was originally published in
Science
by Chester Ittner Bliss in 1934.He worked as an entomologist for the Connecticut agricultural experiment station and was primarily concerned with finding an effective pesticide to control insects that fed on grape leaves(Greenberg 1980). By plotting the response of the insects to various concentrations of pesticides,he could visually see that each pesticide affected the insects at different concentrations, i.e. onewas more effective than the other. However, he didn’t have a statistically sound method tocompare this difference. The most logical approach would be to fit a regression of the responseversus the concentration, or dose and compare between the different pesticides. Yet, therelationship of response to dose was sigmoid in nature and at the time regression was only usedon linear data. Therefore, Bliss developed the idea of transforming the sigmoid dose-responsecurve to a straight line. In 1952, a professor of statistics at the University of Edinburgh by thename of David Finney took Bliss’ idea and wrote a book called
Probit Analysis
(Finney 1952).Today, probit analysis is still the preferred statistical method in understanding dose-responserelationships.
The Basics
Probit Analysis is a specialized regression model of binomial response variables.Remember that regression is a method of fitting a line to your data to compare the relationship of the response variable or dependent variable (Y) to the independent variable (X).
Y = a + b X + e
Where
 
a = y-intercept
 
 b = the slope of the line
 
e = error termAlso remember that a binomial response variable refers to a response variable with only twooutcomes.
 
 For example:
 
Flipping a coin: Heads or tails
 
Testing beauty products: Rash/no rash
 
The effectiveness or toxicity of pesticides: Death/no death
Applications
Probit analysis is used to analyze many kinds of dose-response or binomial response experimentsin a variety of fields. However, because my background knowledge of probit analysis stemsonly from toxicology, the examples from this webpage will only be of toxicology.Probit Analysis is commonly used in toxicology to determine the relative toxicity of chemicals toliving organisms. This is done by testing the response of an organism under variousconcentrations of each of the chemicals in question and then comparing the concentrations atwhich one encounters a response. As discussed above, the response is always binomial (e.g.death/no death) and the relationship between the response and the various concentrations isalways sigmoid. Probit analysis acts as a transformation from sigmoid to linear and then runs aregression on the relationship.Once a regression is run, the researcher can use the output of the probit analysis to compare theamount of chemical required to create the same response in each of the various chemicals. Thereare many endpoints used to compare the differing toxicities of chemicals, but the LC50 (liquids)or LD50 (solids) are the most widely used outcomes of the modern dose-response experiments.The LC50/LD50 represent the concentration (LC50) or dose (LD50) at which 50% of the population responds.For example, consider comparing the toxicity of two different pesticides to aphids, pesticide Aand pesticide B. If the LC50 of pesticide A is 50ug/L and the LC50 of pesticide B is 10ug/L, pesticide B is more toxic than A because it only takes 10ug/L to kill 50% of the aphids, versus50ug/L of pesticide B.
How does probit analysis work? How to get from dose-response curve to an LC50?
Below you will find a step by step guide to using probit analysis with various methods. Theeasiest by far is to use a statistical package such as SPSS, SAS, R, or S, but it is good to see thehistory of the methodology to get a thorough understanding of the material.
 
Step 1: Convert % mortality to probits (short for probability unit)
Method A: Determine probits by looking up those corresponding to the % responded inFinney’s table (Finney 1952):For example, for a 17% response, the corresponding probit would be 4.05. Additionally,for a 50% response (LC50), the corresponding probit would be 5.00.Method B: Hand calculations (Finney and Stevens 1948):The probit Y, of the proportion P is defined by:The standard method of analysis makes use of the maximum and minimum working probits:And the range 1/Z whereMethod C: Computer software such as SPSS, SAS, R, or S convert the percent respondedto probits automatically.
Step 2: Take the log of the concentrations.
 This can either be done by hand if doing hand calculations, or specify this action in thecomputer program of choice.

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